By Christina Young
Marches are trending this year and a number of diverse opinions have come out of this phenomenon. A former BYU student working in D.C. said, “There are often protesters near our offices, protesting any number of issues. I like to see them when I walk by. I like to see people exercising their First-Amendment rights.” Others feel differently. “I hope they’re all fired because they didn’t go to work,” is an opinion quite a few have voiced on the internet, in the news, and around BYU. A lot of people, whether they are for or against these marches, want to know why these protesters are doing what they’re doing. While protesters march for a number of reasons, they are all driven by excitement for a cause. All too often, however, excitement doesn’t equal dedication and the movements behind marches fade away.
A main reason that marchers march is to bring awareness to an issue that they believe is important and currently underrepresented. In America there have recently been women’s marches, LGBT marches, and immigrant marches. Around the globe, marches for these issues occur along with marches for democracy and protests against widespread corruption in government.
The women’s marches sought to show the power of women. They wanted to spread awareness of the issue of inequality that they see in wages, government, and business. Immigrant marches fought against the recent executive orders that Trump tried to pass.
The efficacy of marching is under question. For example, take the Occupy movement which reached not only Wall Street but many other cities around the globe. Thousands upon millions of people participated, passionately petitioning their government to change the injustice they believed existed in their lives. What were the results of this movement? Policy wise, not much. Other movements have similar results. Experts agree that the only truly effective marches were the marches in Egypt and Ukraine, which toppled the governments there.
There’s also the issue of some people reacting negatively to marching (aka the people saying “fire the marchers”). Contrarians don’t understand why marchers feel the need to disrupt everyday life and what these people are protesting against. They don’t understand these marchers’ situations or even if these people have a valid reason for demanding change. By no means am I supporting this argument as a reason to stop marching, but the fact of the matter is that other people need to be reached in order for change to happen. Marchers should attempt to not only spread knowledge, but to spread understanding, to reach out and start up communication between people with different opinions. Therefore, the protesters need to keep working after the marches. Sometimes protesters themselves don’t know what to do after marching, and, feeling they have done their part, return home to normal life and the issue that was so heartfelt quickly fades away. To initiate real change, marchers need to share their story and narrative and they need to make their cause personal and relatable.
What’s the take-home? After the excitement of a march, protestors should participate in the sometimes-more-boring political process and enact real change. Marching can be effective if it’s done in the right way, but it’s only a starting point. The ending point shouldn’t be the return to work the next day, but the moment when the change the marchers protested for comes to be.
This isn’t meant as critique on the marchers and protesters—I think that it’s great that they are taking action and exercising their rights for something they feel strongly about. My point is that real change might take more time.